Halloween Night Music Club

So much for my “no more themed mixes” rule – you didn’t really expect I’d be able to resist doing one for Halloween, did you?

See, there’s so many Halloweur/scary/monsters linked songs (and there’s a clue right there as to the identity o)f one that features this week), I could have made this one at least three times as long, had I been so inclined. But I managed to resist temptaion, and kept it to (just over) an hour – the trimmed ones can make their appearances next year. Or the year after. Or the year after that.

Truth be told, I’m not really a fan of Halloween. The only good thing about it, as far as I can see, is that I can legitimately keep my curtains closed and refuse to answer the door all weekend.

Anyway, here we go with what I hope is not an entirely predictable mix for you all to enjoy whilst stuffing your faces full of the candy you decided not to give to Trick or Treaters, or whilst you’re cleaning the smashed eggs off your front door having ignored them.

I’d recommend turning the lights off, drawing the curtains, lighting some candles and turning it up loud:

Halloween Night Music Club

And here’s your track-listing and sleeve notes. Look away now if you like surprises!

  1. John Murphy – In The House – In A Heartbeat

Or, the super spooky music from one of the best British horror movies from the last 20 years: Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. It beautifully encaspulates the peace and silence which pre-empts all the blood and gore and zombies in a loudQUIETloud kinda way. I don’t profess to be an expert of either band, but it does make me think of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

In case you’ve never seen it, a) what on earth have you been doing? and b) here’s the trailer, which includes some of those iconic deserted London scenes which were breath-taking at the time (and still are):

The thing I love most about 28 Days Later is that for the first 2/3 of the film, you think it’s just another zombie movie, albeit majesticaly and creatively filmed. But when the last 1/3 kicks in, you realise that’s not what the film is about at all,,,

2. Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead

From John to Pete Murphy. I could have filled this mix with goth classics, but in the end plumped for just the one. And if I’m lucky, I’ll have squeezed this in just before SWC completes his wonderfully entertaining countdown of the Top 20 Goth records over at No Badger Required and, since it hasn’t featured yet, I assume crowns this as #1.

This is as intense and moody as hell, slowly building from the intricate drum patterns which sound like flapping bats’ wings, through to the booming darkness of the lyrics: it’s one heck of a record.

Mr Lugosi was unavailable for comment. Because he’s dead.

3. David Bowie – Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

From the album with the same name, the first after his notoriously influential, but commercially unsuccesful, Berlin trilogy. Apparently, this return to a more commerical sound (!) was inspired by his loathing of Gary Numan, who was viewed as a Bowie rip-off.

4. The Automatic – Monster

A remix of this almost appeared in a recent Friday Night mix, but got dropped at the last minute. Which is lucky, because it’s ideal for this one.

I’ve never actually read an interview with this Cardiff based band to confirm it – Wiki says the lyrics were “…a metaphor for the monster that comes out when people are intoxicated…” – but I definitely heard that it was about when all the boys from the Valleys would descend on the capital city of a Saturday night and cause absolute mayhem.

5. Peaches – Trick or Treat

Extraordinarily for a record by Peaches, I don’t think this contains any actual swears. Sure, there’s innuendo a-plenty – at least that’s what I assume her mention of never going to bed without a piece of raw meat is, anyway. Probably best I slap one of these on it anyway, to be on the safe side:

6. Radiohead – Bodysnatchers

Included for two reasons: i) when I was a kid, the movie Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (the remake, with Donald Sutherland) absolutely scared the crap out of me, and ii) because it’s one of the many tunes where Thom Yorke sounds in tortured pain, which seems appropriate somehow.

7. Miley Cyrus – I Get So Scared

If you’ve not yet succumbed to the charms of Miss Cyrus, then may I direct you to the album this is lifted from, Мiley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz, described in various quarters as experimental, psychedelic, psychedelic pop and space pop, which will come as less of a surprise when you learn that Wayne Coyne and the boys from The Flaming Lips were massive influences on the creative process and feature on the record too. Seriously: check it out. It absolutely changed my perception of her.

Anyway, there’s no need to be scared, Miley; here’s….

8. Bobby ”Boris” Picket & The Crypt Kickers – Monster Mash

Predictable? You betcha. It’s still great though, 50 years since it was first released.

9. Bloc Party – Hunting for Witches

I don’t have much to say about this one, other than it’s obvious why it’s here and it sounds like…well, like Bloc Party.

Actually, I would say that hunting for witches sounds like a very bad idea indeed. I mean, what are you going to do if you catch one? End up in a disappointing sitcom?

Yes, you.

10. Queens Of The Stone Age – Burn The Witch

Ah yes, that’s always an option, I guess.

11. Spinnerette – All Babes Are Wolves

The placing of this, by the former Mrs Josh Homme, is entirely coincidental. Honest. It does provide a rather nice segue into tunes about wolves, mind. Plus, it’s a terrific record, in a quite-a-bit-like-Hole kinda way; a record which was largely and unjustly mostly overlooked when it was released in 2009 and deserves to be revisited.

12. TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me

Neil! Neil! I remembered it all by myself!

13. Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon

Another from the ‘entirely predictable/I couldn’t resist’ pile.

Included for two reasons: i) I don’t think, and I’m open to correction, any other single to make the UK chart has the word spewing in it; I’m certain no others have He finds his heaven spewing from the mouth of hell, and ii) these are preceded by perhaps the most ludicrously misplaced Ooh yeah baby! ever committed to vinyl.

Genius, in a bat-biting, ant-snorting kind of way.

14. Super Furry Animals – Let the Wolves Howl at the Moon

Time for a breather before the glorious finale, and it seemed appropriate to follow up a record where the lead singer dressed up as a werewolf (a furry animal, no less) on the cover of Bark at the Moon, with a song by the Super Furry Animals, who aren’t adverse to dressing up as big furry animals themselves, singing about how we should just let Ozzy get on with it. Sort of.

15. Echo & The Bunnymen – The Killing Moon

Not just the last record from the ‘entirely predictable/I couldn’t resist’ pile, but the last record in this mix.

And I need say no more about it than this: magnificent.

Oh, and: more soon.

…and Hello 2021!

Many years ago, when I lived in Cardiff, there was an annual free music festival held on the lawn in front of City Hall. It probably still happens, I have no idea, since I’ve not lived there for almost as long as I did live there.

Spread over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you’d find a real mish-mash of bands playing. Some up and coming – I saw Super Furry Animals there for the first time back in 1996 – and, to give you some idea of the rich tapestry of acts who performed, The Spice Girls and Pato Banton were also on the bill that year. I know, you’re jealous, right?

Generally, there would be one evening of current music; one of acts with genuine cultural significance, and one slightly cheesy, 80s-centric night. If I tell you that over the years, I saw Chas’n’Dave, Ray Davies, Gene, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and The Proclaimers there (other acts to appear include The Lightning Seeds, Catatonia, The Zutons and Camera Obscura) you’ll get the idea. Bands either on their way up, on their way back down again, or so highly revered that they would light up any night.

The weekend would generally be over-run by lads from The Valleys, agog at city life. You might not know it, but this is exactly what this song is about:

One year, Llŷr and I (and a bunch of friends) gathered together one Friday night to watch the legend that is Howard Jones perform.

Yes. That Howard Jones.

Like me, I’m sure you can maybe remember two or three of his hits from his brief time at the front of British pop music. But this night stayed in mine and Llŷr’s memory for a long time afterwards, for two reasons.

Firstly, because he played a keytar. You know, one of these:

Held like a guitar, played like a keyboard, is there anything which embodies 80s music as succinctly as this?

Secondly, Jones introduced his backing band, and, before announcing their name, he described what turned out to be (another) keyboard player as “on music manipulation!”

Llŷr and I found this hilarious, and from that moment on, whenever at a gig where a band was being introduced, or where we were watching something which just seemed so pompous, so over-blown by its own self-importance, one of us would bellow: “And now…on music manipulation…..!”

As with many of our in-jokes, nobody else would have the slightest clue as to why we were falling about laughing.

Anyway, as the curtain rises on what will hopefully be a better year than the last, this – with Howard on music manipulation! – seems appropriate:

It was this or some Labour politicians singing along to D:Ream. Shush.

Happy New Year to you all. Truly, more than any other year, I hope this is better than the last for us all.

More soon.

Same Title, Different Song

Did you ever have one of those conversations where you suddenly felt very old?

Let me give you an example.

Shortly after I started working for an insurance company in Cardiff, about 20 years ago now, I found myself as an Acting Team Leader on the Teleclaims section; “Acting” because the actual Team Leader had gone on long term sick, and they didn’t want to actually promote me in her absence because that would have meant paying me more.

The Teleclaims section was the first point of contact should you ever need to make a claim. Or, if you wanted to find out what was going on with your claim. In the latter case, it was an unwritten rule that you should never bother the person actually dealing with the claim. I was rather good at this; I’d have a quick read of the file whilst the caller was on hold, then call the handler, ask them if I was right about where I thought the claim was at, then reassure them I wasn’t going to put the caller through, I’d get rid of them myself. 9 times out of 10  I’d be successful, and I quickly got myself a reputation as “the bloke who never makes handlers talk to customers.” My popularity burgeoned.

It was for this reason, I think, that I found the title of Acting Team Leader foisted upon me. But now my job had changed; now I spent most of my time shouting at people to answer the phones rather than actually answering them myself, or, quite often, taking complaint calls and politely explaining to the caller why they were wrong.

See, I’m not really management material. But on the occasions when I’ve found myself in vaguely managerial positions throughout my working life, I’ve been a firm believer in leading by example. Don’t ask others to do things you aren’t prepared to do yourself, is my motto. In fact, one job I did ended rather abruptly, shortly after I confronted a manager who had told me to “Do as I say, not as I do,” and I told him he was a twat.

So when I was an Assistant Supervisor at Boots (check me out with all my not-quite-boss credentials), I felt awkward telling other people slightly further down the food chain than I to jump on the tills when it was busy, so I’d often do it myself. Then there could be no arguments when I did tell someone to do it. Plus, I got to have a nice sit down.

Anyway, back to the insurance company. It’s busy, and I decide to answer a few calls, one of which involves a policyholder whose name is Paul Newman.

Call completed, I, of course, cannot resist making a comment about having just spoken to Paul Newman to the folks around me. Not a particularly funny comment, I’ll grant you (although that was definitely the intent) but one which I thought would gain a reaction from somebody.

Instead, I was met with blank looks.

“Y’know. Paul Newman.”

More blank looks.

“The actor. The very famous actor,” I semi-pleaded.

A bale of hay blows through.

“Makes salad dressing…..?” I offered.

A wave of recognition.

And that’s how you know when you’re getting old. When somebody you know for doing the main thing they’re famous for is known by young people for doing something less significant. I now refer to it as “having a Paul Newman moment.”

To apply this to a musical setting: a few years later, I’m still working for the same company, but I’ve progressed. I now deal with potentially expensive claims, where people (say that) they’ve been injured in an accident with someone we insure. I find myself sitting next to a lad who has been transferred from a different office. Usual in-between work banter occurs, and it transpires we have a lot in common in terms of musical taste. (Later nights out would reveal that he also rather liked taking pills; needless to say, we got on very well. Also needless to say, for the very same reason, I’m not going to mention his real name.)

Steve. Let’s call him Steve.

In one of our we-really-should-be-working-but-nobody’s-checking-what-we’re-doing chats, Steve revealed that he really liked The Automatic, a somewhat perfunctory Welsh indie band, best remembered for their single Monster. Credit where credit’s due, though: our conversation took place before they’d had any hits (if indeed their hit count extends into plurals). But he had one gripe with the band: he hated the additional vocals which Alex Pennie often provided, finding them obtrusive and annoying.

“A bit like Einar from The Sugarcubes, then?” I offered.

Cue the blank looks from “Steve”.

“You know. Einar. From the Sugarcubes.”

More blank looks.

“Used to pop up in the middle of every Sugarcubes song, and just start shouting pseudo-avant garde nonsense?”

Is it me, or is it getting warm in here?

Turns out, in musical terms, you know you’re old when you know the name of somebody in The Sugarcubes who wasn’t Bjork. And some of their records.

Like this one:

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The Sugarcubes – Hit

And, making a second appearance in as many posts, here’s a different song with the same title:

the-wannadies-hit-indolent

The Wannadies – Hit

And just to tie things up neatly, here’s a song by The Automatic which isn’t Monster and which isn’t the best example of a song which features Pennie’s irritating backing vocals. It is, however, a song about a sandwich shop in Cardiff, and I rather like it for that at least: R-1056600-1188654629_jpeg

The Automatic – Raoul

More soon (football permitting).